El Chapo: Extradition Decision Moves to Foreign Affairs Dept

The potential extradition of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera is making headlines again. A few quick points:

1. The Mexican Judiciary announced today a judge in Mexico's Third District federal criminal court (Mexico City) recently ruled that the U.S. request for El Chapo's extradition to the Southern District of California (San Diego) is legally sufficient, meaning it complied with the treaty requirements. The ruling applies to the Fourth Superseding Indictment in the 1995 Otay Mesa tunnel case. The announcement (in Spanish) is here. [More...]

Via Google Translate, it says:

SUBJECT: The Third District Court of Federal Criminal Proceedings in Mexico City reported in the extradition proceedings 3/2001, which issued the legal opinion that Article 27 of the International Extradition Act refers to, in which considered appropriate international extradition Archivaldo Joaquin Guzman Loera, required by the Government of the United States of America, through its Embassy in Mexico, being subject to the Fourth Process supervening CR 95-0973-B (also referred to with numbers cause 95-973-B, 95-0973-B and 95-1911M) before the Federal District Court for Southern California, United States of America District, on the charge of conspiracy to import and possess with intent to distribute cocaine; above, considered under the requirements established in the Extradition Treaty between the United Mexican States and the United States of America.

2. The court ruling did not approve his actual extradition -- that's not the court's job. The court's ruling is that his extradition would be legal. The matter now passes to Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs which has approximately 30 days to make a decision on extraditing El Chapo. It's now a political decision. The Ministry (SRE) issued a statement today saying:

"It is important to note that the Government of Mexico does not scan the guilt or innocence of the person sought on the crimes that are charged him in another country, but is will only verify that the requirements of the Bilateral Treaty applicable to the origin or not of the request in accordance with our legal constitutional framework, with respect for human rights and to follow up on the principles of foreign policy."

3. Assuming the Foreign Affairs Ministry approves extradition, El Chapo can agree or disagree. If he agrees to extradition, he could be here within a matter of months. If he fights it, and his lawyers begin the process of filing court challenges to his extradition, it could take a year or more, with appeals.

The extradition request referenced by the Judge refers to the request the U.S. made in June, 2015. (Mexico's announcement 7/12/15 is here.) It had previously requested his extradition to San Diego in the 1990's or in 2001, but the paperwork wasn't complete or needed revision. There are varying accounts of this.

A new arrest warrant for extradition to San Diego was approved by a Mexican Judge in July, 2015. El Chapo's attorneys obtained a writ of Amparo against it. I've written several long posts on the San Diego case and extradition -- see here and here.

El Chapo is facing charges in several federal jurisdictions in the U.S., but Mexico to date has issued provisional arrest warrants for extradition only for San Diego and the Western District of Texas. Depending on the contents of the diplomatic note, and whether Mexico waives the rule of specialty, it's possible El Chapo could first be tried in a different district than San Diego. (See my earlier post.) The statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs today makes clear the judge's ruling applies only to cocaine distribution. In other words, this ruling has nothing to do with the murder charges pending in NY or TX.

Here's the latest on why they moved him to Ceferoso #9, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. It was the product of a sudden and short electrical blackout. The Director of National Security said they couldn't repair the electrical nodes while inmates were moving between cells, so they had to move the inmates. Here's the prison chief's original explanation that it was a routine rotation per the revised prison rules saying high security inmates should be moved periodically.

La Jornada today reported Ceferoso #9 has been taken over by Mexico's national defense Secretariat (Sedena).

Update: El Chapo's lawyers filed a new amparo request on Saturday upon learning he'd been moved. The Court said it doesn't have jurisdiction, but agreed to notify the criminal court that does have jurisdiction and stayed any extradition in the meantime.

< Sunday Night TV and Open Thread | W. Va: Sanders Wins But Gains Little >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    once in the US... (none / 0) (#1)
    by linea on Tue May 10, 2016 at 12:27:47 AM EST
    re: "the judge's ruling applies only to cocaine distribution. In other words, this ruling has nothing to do with the murder charges pending in NY or TX."

    i thought there was a atanding precedent (or whatever) that a US court does not evaluate the circumstances that brought a defendant before the court.  something like, you can drug somebody, shove them in a crate, and mail them to a federal court and it wouldnt matter.  thus once he's in america, cant the Feds grab el chapo and haul him to any federal court to face any federal charges?

    Apples & oranges (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Peter G on Tue May 10, 2016 at 01:10:13 PM EST
    On the one hand, as you say, the jurisdiction of the U.S. court is not affected by the legality of the means used to bring the defendant before the court. On the other hand, all U.S. extradition treaties include a provision known as the "rule (or doctrine) of specialty" (alluded to by J in her post), which restricts the authority of the "receiving" country to try or to imprison the extradited person only on the charge or charges agreed to by the "sending" country. This is not exactly a "right" of the defendant but rather an implementation of the equality and respect between nations reflected in an extradition treaty. (However, courts generally grant standing to the accused to raise the issue.) That is, if the US could try Chapo for anything it chose once Mexico extradited him, then Mexico's authority to grant or refuse extradition would be undermined if not negated. This is also why (as J further mentions) the "sending" country can "waive" speciality after the fact and allow additional prosecutions.

    Kabuki Dance (none / 0) (#3)
    by Mr Natural on Tue May 10, 2016 at 02:56:51 PM EST
    Life or death dance? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jack E Lope on Tue May 10, 2016 at 03:45:04 PM EST
    As I understand it (and IANAL), the specialty provisions allow extradition with a sort of conscience.  Countries that prohibit death penalties would use this doctrine to keep extradition from effectively imposing a death sentence, among other things.

    You wouldn't want to be extradited for, say, theft...and have the country then charge you with heresy - punishable by stoning-to-death.  (Yes, that's an exaggerated example.  Countries with such laws seldom have much in the way of treaties.)


    IMO, Guzman's best chances (none / 0) (#5)
    by Mr Natural on Tue May 10, 2016 at 05:07:16 PM EST
    lie well outside the legal system.  We may be headed for an explosive finish to this episode of narcorealismo.

    I wasn't being dismissive, Peter G (none / 0) (#6)
    by Mr Natural on Tue May 10, 2016 at 09:40:46 PM EST
    But Guzman is in the unfortunate position of having the full attention of the Mexican Government.

    Thank you for explaining specialty.  I was struck by the use of the word, equality, in discussing extradition treaties.  Does America really consider or treat any other country as its equal?


    equal sovereignty in this context, yes (none / 0) (#7)
    by Peter G on Tue May 10, 2016 at 10:07:29 PM EST
    Not in terms of protection from bombing, "police actions" or invasion without a state of war, on the other hand.